Now that you have allowed your Bold and Courageous Self to emerge, become an Expert in your particular cause or issue, identified as a “good person,” energized yourself by eliminating energy leaks and toxic influences from your environment, and are Showing Up with a Smile at meetings and conferences, and are more ready than ever to be a force for positive change in this world, the time has come for you to “pause and reflect.”
First, as part of this pause I want to thank you for reading these blogs, giving me comments and suggestions and inspiring me to share more. My hope for you is that you have gained some small tidbits from these blogs to support you on your path to greatness and help you to realize just what an absolutely incredible and extraordinary individual you are, and one with whom I am thankful to be connected.
In fact, that’s what this “pause” is all about — being thankful and having gratitude, or as I prefer to call it, having an Attitude of Gratitude. This has become a critical component of my daily life, and is something I think all of us should make a conscious effort to practice multiple times every day, even if we wake up in the middle of the night — to take that moment to be grateful for the smallest things in our lives. It’s yet another way of building inner energy and vitality for us to use in our quest to change the world.
An Attitude of Gratitude is an essential ingredient in having a successful life or a fulfilling business career, which is why it’s necessary to take multiple pauses to either share such thankfulness or to reinforce in your own mind the awareness of how incredibly lucky you are to have what you have and for those around you.
I find whenever I can’t sleep because I’m overthinking something or going over events of the preceding day, that a simple pause to think about everything I am grateful for eliminates an entire level of stress and gives me a renewed feeling of confidence.
Now I want to go a bit further into this concept and give you four ‘A’s’ that comprise an Attitude of Gratitude.
- Appreciation. Appreciate everything for what it is and appreciate it “in the moment.” That means being thankful for the smallest little things — those tiny rays of sunshine through the clouds that help ease all of the bumps and bruises that occur along this path we call life. While it might not always seem easy, you’ll find that learning to cherish anything and everything of a positive nature you experience can go a long way toward alleviating chaos and consternation. Getting into the habit of expressing your appreciation for such joys to everyone around you will soon make an Attitude of Gratitude one that people associate with you.
- Approval. In a kid’s song called “I Like People,” the immortal Jimmy Durante once advised, “If you want to be appreciated/ and want everyone to like you. You’ve got to start to do your part /and do some likin’ to.” He was talking about conveying approval, which Webster defines as “believing that someone or something is good or acceptable” – a process you can initiate whenever you pause to reflect by making a mental list of those whose contributions to society and your own life you value, and then making a point of openly expressing it to all the individuals on that list.
- Admiration. While closely aligned with giving approval, expressing admiration takes it to the next level, moving you to be generous with your praise for all the great work going on around you. It often consists of paying simple compliments to everyone you think deserves them, from the barista preparing your coffee to the store employee who found the item you were searching for, and all those who make your ability to do your job so much easier. Compliment them regularly and let them know just how much you appreciate them and what they do. Look for reasons to compliment people and watch the positive responses you get in return.
- Attention. This might be the most difficult of the four A’s to focus on in this busy and distracting world, but then, that’s the whole point. We simply have to give others the attention they deserve by listening to and processing what they are saying. There is no greater sign of gratitude than listening intently to someone and understanding them. (In fact, this is a good reminder to me of the importance of doing so.) Another component of attention is having awareness of all that’s going on around you, realizing how the most seemingly unimportant, inconsequential or trivial things can really impact your life, either positively or negatively, and can even lead to big opportunities if you show gratitude for them. But to do that, you have to pay attention, or you’re liable to miss out on them entirely.
Now one ‘A’ that’s not included in these four, but probably should be, is Altitude, which is perhaps best expressed in one of my favorite quotes that reflects on how having an Attitude of Gratitude is critical to your growth and the magnitude of the change you are going to make in this world:
“An attitude of gratitude will determine the level of altitude at which you are able to soar.”
— Tomyka Washington
Yes, you should feel that you are destined to soar, that you are an extraordinary individual with unlimited potential. But even if you’re one of the smartest, most talented and most articulate people in the world, if you don’t live an Attitude of Gratitude it will lower your “climbing altitude” by inhibiting your ability to become the top in your field and to change the world in the way you hope to.
I will close with a little story that I will never forget. As a boy, I was enamored of Muhammad Ali as a boxer and wanted to see one of his workouts. Being very young at the time, I couldn’t afford an actual ticket, but discovered that some of his workouts were open to the public. So a few of us found someone with a license to drive to Las Vegas to see one of them. We arrived early and were already at ringside when in came Ali. Seeing him in person gave me chills. We began applauding, when I noticed that the first and only person that Ali talked to before getting into the ring was the security guard posted outside the ropes, the two of them smiling and jiving. Ali then continued to banter with and praise the other security guards, along with his people in the corner. In retrospect, I now realized he spent the entire workout practicing those four A’s that come with an Attitude of Gratitude.
To this day I have never forgotten that experience, and the way it impressed me with how important to our existence are the security guards, the maintenance crews, the support people in our lives every day who often don’t get the appreciation, the approval, the admiration or the attention they deserve from those of us who benefit so much from their roles.
So after you’ve read this blog — and again, thanks for reading it — I would like to ask you to exhibit an Attitude of Gratitude to the next person you encounter. Tell them how much you appreciate what it is they do or the services they’re performing, and if they want to tell you something, listen intently without distraction. In addition to realizing your incredible, extraordinary and awesome potentials, you’ll soon find yourself able to soar to unlimited heights, elevated by the uplifting force of your own reawakened sense of appreciation and the gratitude of those around you.
Rock on! AZ